Buffalo State College proudly recognizes four exemplary students who have been awarded the 2022 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence (PDF, 1.2 MB). The highest student honor bestowed by SUNY, the Chancellor’s Award recognizes those who have integrated academic excellence with distinguished achievement in areas such as community service, campus involvement, creative and performing arts, athletics, entrepreneurship, leadership, and career achievement.
The Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence were officially awarded by SUNY during a ceremony on April 26 in Saratoga Springs, New York. Buffalo State’s winners will again be recognized during the college’s 150th Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 21.
Kassius J. Broadus
Kassius Broadus has earned a bachelor of arts in history, attaining a 3.81 GPA while demonstrating his talents as a remarkable scholar, activist, and community member.
Broadus is an aspiring public interest attorney who is noted by faculty members for his critical reading and analytical writing skills, talent for public speaking, and passion for leadership. An accomplished researcher, he conducted a thorough and incisive investigation of the Tonawanda Coke Corporation, which was shut down for violations of the Clean Air Act. His report detailed the community’s legal battle against the company and included data from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the University at Buffalo.
On campus, he serves as vice president of the college’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national honor society in history, and as the History and Social Studies Education Department’s student representative on the Dean’s Student Council. He is a member of Tau Sigma, the national honor society for transfer students. He has shown great leadership in class discussions, inspiring classmates to join in thoughtful evaluation of contemporary topics within a historical context.
A transgender man and nontraditional student, he is a strong advocate for an affirming and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ students. He has demonstrated a commitment to the rigorous study of issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Naturally community minded, Broadus has worked at Catholic Charities of Albany as a Project Safe Point peer advocate for recovering drug users and other addicted individuals and as a reentry advocate for inmates in Albany County, with a heavy emphasis on public service and harm reduction. He possesses a relentless positive attitude, a clear lifelong passion for learning, and a deep desire to help others.
Sara J. Hillman
Sara Hillman has earned a bachelor of arts in political science with minors in philosophy and environmental science, attaining a 3.73 GPA while working multiple jobs and serving as an element leader in the 914th Air Refueling Wing Training Division of the U.S. Air Force.
A member of the Dean’s Honors Program and a Muriel A. Howard Honors Program ambassador, Hillman pursued a rigorous program of study that combined the natural and social sciences. She earned an Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship and presented her work at the college’s Student Research and Creativity Conference. Her research focused on how political actions and non-actions affect the environment, using the Keystone Pipeline and the correlation between farmer bankruptcy and pesticide use as examples. Based on her profound class contributions, she was selected by faculty members to participate in several high-level colloquia on topics in American government.
A natural leader, she has served as a senator with the college’s United Students Government; president of the Student Political Society; president of the Residence Hall Association; and a team counselor with Camp 1871, a group that builds leadership skills in new undergraduates. In addition, she has worked as an equity and diversity ambassador and volunteered with Bengals Dare to Care Day and the Anne Frank Project.
In the community, she has volunteered for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American Cancer Society, and the Food Bank of Western New York. She also volunteered as a United States Postal Service Secret Santa.
Hillman, a first-generation college student, is mature, intelligent, humorous, confident, and actively engaged. She has given back to the college and her community with her work ethic and public spirit.
Joana C. Leamon
A nontraditional student, Leamon is an exceptional scholar with enormous dedication to her studies, her fellow students, and her craft as a media maker. She is a consistently eager contributor to class discussions and generously inspires her classmates to excel as well. Her independent study on drone operation, in which she produced an easy-to-understand magazine-style tutorial, is an invaluable resource for current and future media students.
An accomplished videographer and editor, she produced a powerful short documentary about women’s rights in Western civilization that was selected for the 2022 MicroMania Film Festival. In addition, her short documentary about artist Shasti O’Leary Soudant was featured by the Burchfield Penney Art Center. Both films were selected for presentation at the college’s annual Student Research and Creativity Conference.
Leamon took a leading role in reviving the campus radio station and television club after a year of inactivity due to the pandemic. She is a producer and host of the popular “Let’s Talk, Buffalo” show on WBNY-FM 91.3, which addresses current issues in the community. She also serves as president of the Rho Psi chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Association’s honor society.
She received the 2021 Tim Russert Media Career Award from the Buffalo Broadcasters Association (BBA) as the area’s outstanding collegiate media student. She was invited to join the BBA board of directors as a student representative and earned a prestigious media production internship at Buffalo Toronto Public Media, the local PBS station. In the community, she volunteers to film, edit, and upload weekly worship service for Christ Chapel Wesleyan Church in her hometown of Silver Creek, New York.
Cody B. Crist
Cody Crist has earned a bachelor of science in earth sciences with minors in geology and astronomy, attaining a 3.81 GPA while participating in the college’s Muriel A. Howard Honors Program. He has excelled in academics, citizenship, campus involvement, and leadership.
Crist is a U.S. Army veteran and nontraditional student. After incurring a permanent disability and earning an honorable medical retirement from the military, he turned his focus to high-level scholarship in the field of geology. He has used his unique perspective and life experiences to develop a compassion for others and a deep desire to make the world a better place.
A dedicated and diligent researcher, he earned an Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship in geology, completing fieldwork at Mount Washington in New Hampshire and gaining skills as a geological cartographer. He was selected to present his findings at the 2022 Northeastern Section Meeting of the Geological Society of America. His interest in Earth’s physical structure and aptitude for decoding its history and meaning led to his hiring as an undergraduate student teaching assistant and lab manager.
Crist’s scientific queries extend to astronomy, and he has conducted significant research on the operational and software needs of Buffalo State’s new Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium. He shares his enthusiasm with fellow students as president of the college’s Astronomy and Geology Club.
Beyond campus, he volunteers with multiple veterans’ charity organizations serving disabled and combat veterans. These organizations provide physical as well as mental and emotional help to veterans in need. He has also volunteered for several years as a firefighter in the Town of Cheektowaga, where he has earned numerous certifications as a firefighter and first responder.
Photos by Buffalo State Creative Services.
Chancellor's Award photo: Onondaga Community College.